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The Growth of Veterans Treatment Courts [Podcast]

Veterans Treatment Courts are one of the fastest growing criminal justice programs in the United States. Since 9/11, more than 2.5 million Americans have served our country in uniform. Many of them have deployed several times, and upon returning home, they struggle not only with the physical wounds of war but also its “invisible” wounds: post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Since the inception of the first Veterans Treatment Court by Judge Robert Russell in Buffalo, NY, in 2008, there are now more than 300 veterans treatment courts across the country.

These courts account for veterans’ military service and provide diversion and treatment alternatives specific to their needs. The development of a screening tool specific to veterans is now underway through a partnership between the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). The assessment tool factors in the latest research on trauma and will support an accompanying case planning protocol. This Veterans Treatment Court Enhancement Initiative is a three-year project that will include implementing the tool and protocol in two pilot sites. The pilot site solicitation opportunity will be released in November 2015.